Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Marvellous Maher

Maher Zain was back to woo his ever faithful Malaysian  fans with another live performance last Saturday (16 June 2012). 

This time it was a very energetic performance, fans were amazed at the energy level of their favorite singer. With  such a smooth performance that night, I'd declare him best  entertainer ever!  

Irfan Makki 

The concert was opened by Irfan Makki singing Waiting for the Call. 

Yes, Irfan's performance wasn't that great that night but I'll make excuses for him, having seen him perform live in Brunei before, he has this soft pure voice similar to MJ's but perhaps he was unwell as he had difficulty singing some of the high notes.

I loved that he sang all  of our favorite songs including MJ's You are Not Alone. My personal favorite is Waiting for the Call.  

To me, Irfan is a bit shy and if he wants to make it really big in Malaysia he needs to overcome his shyness. 


Raef - what can I say? He's been blessed with talent by Allah swt.

 "It's freezing up here" said Raef, and that brought a big grin to our faces. Our family loved all of his cover versions, especially, With You, I'm Yours and It's Jumuah and was hoping that he would sing a new song in the concert. My little girl cheekily asked him in fb to sing a new song!  

And yes a romantic composition for his future wife was the new song. So Raef, clearly exceeded our (my family) expectations. And I bet other Malaysians' expectations as well, you know how hopelessly romantic all Maher Zain fans are. For the Rest of My Life was so popular it was translated into Malay. So Raef's song had captured  many hearts that night and increased his fan base,  considering he has not even released any debut album nor single, this achievement is simply awesome.  Many who were unaware of Raef before this, were impressed with his vocal talent.  I believe he's going to follow the footsteps of Maher Zain  soon! 

So Awakening Records please release a single for Raef ASAP, better still a debut album. All songs were performed by Raef effortlessly and brilliantly. His cover songs have a fun and fresh melody to them which suits Raef fine, being the typical easygoing   American guy, clad in a checked  shirt,  blue jeans, converse sneakers and a wide grin! His cute looking favorite  toadstool  is his trademark as well, appearing in his video clips but not sure whether he brought Mr.Toadstool along that night. (He did tweet to my girl and said yes)

Maher Zain

And the star of the night himself, Maher Zain, was just awesome! 

If I need to describe his performance that night in one word, the word PERFECT would be my choice. 

The starting gimmick was pretty impressive with Sepanjang Hidup (although I couldn't figure out what song it was at first as it was a much faster version, and I personally like the English version ) . The other fans were thrilled anyhow.  From then on he kept entertaining his fans non stop. 

My personal favorite of Maher' promise of 'surprises'  for Malaysia would be his piano recital. An old composition, he claimed. Of course, the crowd went wild when he said "Only for Malaysia" well it's a known fact that he can play the piano very well and I've always wondered why he  never performed with a piano in his concerts. So, yes this was the best surprise of all. 

His vocal was at his best ( okay only been to two of his live concerts ) - simply amazing vocal prowess! And I couldn't believe that he actually managed to sing all the songs from his new album including some of his famous hits from his first album. His mood was cheerful, occasionally talking in bahasa and teasing the audience a number of times.  When he said he needed to leave the stage for five minutes,   the crowd groaned.  He then teased that he would be here all night long. Ha ha, now that would be a real treat!

And  when he sang For the Rest of MY Life and substituted the English word ' love' with 'sayang' the ladies went ooohhh! It's simply amazing how he was energetic from the start till the end, not an easy feat since his songs range from slow till fast numbered ones. 

MashaAllah, talented indeed. He's brought a whole different meaning to the word entertainment. My personal favorite from the new album is Paradise and the rendition was MashaAllah, perfect! 

A little upset that I Love You So was sung in Malay - Ku MillikMu but equally relieved that Guide Me All the Way was in English. And his evergreen hit that brought fame to him, InshaAllah was marvelously delivered!!! 

Maher also sang Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror. I was expecting Raef to sing this as he already had his cover version. It was through  this song that I first discovered Raef. But when one is so talented, any cover that they sing will be made into their very own.  Maher sang a very fast paced version but so great that brought a new life to MJ's song. Whilst Raef's version is gentler and relaxing to listen to. Man in the Mirror always have a special place in my heart because of its powerful lyrics.

The music was incredibly smashing. Talented musicians accompanying a great performer makes an enjoyable night for the audience.  Also, bringing in the Arabic musical instrument duff  brought a different feel to the concert as well. 

 You did it again Maher! Your performance was way beyond expectation. And because of this it helped to change the mood of some of the audience who were unhappy with the local organizer right from the start of the concert. Marctensia Mishap will  be my next post, InshaAllah, detailing the weakness of the concert's organizing. 

A local online newspaper did a write up on Maher Zain's live concert  titled 'Kaku Komunikasi' . The writer had commented that Maher was stiff and lacked communication with the audience. She had quoted her friend saying that she might as well listen to the Cd!!??  Whoa! I beg to differ, Maher's live performances are not the same as listening to his CDs,my dear! They are just a different experience one will encounter rather than listening to a Cd. 

Hmm,  at first I did wish he talked more to the audience (  I am that type of person who like knowing why he made such songs, etc) but when I saw him rendering his songs with so much enthusiasm I believe it's because he wanted to cover many songs within that few hours time. He's not stiff, by the way. In his Brunei concert he interacted well with the audience.(heh, calling my darling Nisa on stage to sing with him and Irfan Makki).  

 So it was indeed a successful concert. And yes, heard the lighting was good too. Notice the word heard, it's because our view of the stage was partly blocked. Despite paying for  the most expensive tickets after VIP range, our view was the 'gorgeous' scaffolding and the massive camera stand.  

Finally, we owe it to Maher for being such a superb entertainer that made the concert a class of its own. Despite dissatisfaction  that was felt by his fans due to poor organization from the local organizer. If not for Maher's superb performance, many of his fans would have  left Stadium Merdeka still feeling angry and upset after the concert. 

 Alhamdulillah, all praise is to Allah as it did not rain that night and for such a memorable night. May Allah bless Maher Zain and the rest of the Awakening team for their work in spreading dakwah through music. May Allah keep their intentions firm. 

 Marvellous Maher, Malaysia awaits you again!

p/s: photos maybe later coz I am not IT savvy at all, but no promises.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Thirty Seven Today

I am 37 years old today!

SubhanAllah! Alhamdulillah! This morning I woke up and recited 'waking up' du'a with so much kesyukuran-gratefulness. That I am still breathing. Thank you Allah for all your blessings. Then when I was about to switch my alarm off from my phone, I saw so many notifications, that friends have posted on my fb timeline, messages including  texts and WhatsApp.

It's my birthday after all. Yes, I am 37 today. 

My du'a is that Allah make me steadfast and grant me patience, that I will be a solehah wife, daughter and mother.

Self Reflection/Muhasabah

Just yesterday, during our 'Sembang Ilmu' -  as our usrah circle is called , we were covering the topic of Qadha and Qada'. As we reached the part where our ajal, rizqi have been decided, my eyes became wet. Suddenly, I felt ashamed because here I am feeling happy since beginning of this week, as my birthday is approaching. It hit me that we tend to forget that we may be called to leave this dunya when our time comes. And we don't even know when. How sure am I that I will live to see my 37th birthday? A surge of panic passed through my body like an electric wave. I am not ready Ya Allah! 

So of course waking up this morning was so special and I am most grateful to Allah swt for giving me another day. Thank you for all the blessings bestowed upon me and my family.

If you would count up the favors of Allah, never would you be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al-Nahl, 18)

Again, time to reflect on what I have achieved so far, having lived in this world for thirty seven years. You can't count the blessings from Allah but we can surely reflect on what we have done in this world. My mistakes, my sins, and my contributions? What have I done for Islam? Still a long way to go as I've achieved little in regard to my deen. I am contemplating whether I should record  my resolutions here, but for now I will keep to myself what I've set. 

Study the deen is the keyword, but so much to do but with little time. 
(Tick Tock, Tick Tock, time is running out!) 

Pleasing Allah will be the objective of my actions in order to  

Make Jannahtul Firdaus my final destination.

( I realize that my ibadah has yet to reach the quality that makes me qualify for Jannahtul Firdaus but I like to make this as my objective, as a strong motivational goal, so that every time I find myself feeling a bit lazy this objective will surely get me going.) 

Now putting all this into plans and actions will be my things to do this weekend. Again, make me steadfast, Ya Allah!

Always, always remember that maut will come to us when our time is due. Allah has set this and there is no way anyone can stop from answering this final call from Allah. Make this as an important reminder to us. I will find time to post something on maut itself in the future. 

And always thank Allah for giving us another day, and this is well covered in the du'a that we recite every time we get up from bed. 

Trying out new stuff at this ripe age

Today also marks a new beginning for me.  

It was my first lesson in horse riding. A dream come true. 
I've been fascinated by horses ever since I was small but back then horse riding lessons were too expensive. 

I read in Solusi magazine that one who spends his time learning to ride a horse will get reward-'pahala' for the time and efforts he puts in it. It's sunnah by the way. So I enrolled my kids and myself into horse riding lessons. After a year of being on the wait list, my kids got their lessons but they accidently overlooked mine. I did not mind at all because deep down I felt a little afraid. Well, it must be the age factor to feel a little bit worried. Two months of chauffeuring them to lessons, and seeing how they enjoyed the lessons so much made me follow up on my request. 

I had second thoughts again this morning. Will I be able to do this as this age? My initial reaction upon mounting the horse was 'oh,oh gayat'. But once the horse started to walk and then did the race trot, it was okay. I got in rhythm with the horse's movement and the whole experience was exhilarating.

Not bad, I now look forward  to future classes. 

At least, I found one sports activity in my aim to strike a balance - Islam, family and self. What better way to satisfy yourself and gain reward  as well.  


p/s : Islam is not just a religion it's a way of life. What I've categorized as Islam above is actually on my contribution to my seen i.e. normally I'd plan my day with doing work- for my kids, self and under the category of Islam it would be for example: helping a neighbour, visiting a sick friend. Always niat to do anything for Allah even when doing housework, stuff for your kids and even horse riding to order to get reward from Allah swt. 


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Forgiving Others

In my previous post, Ask For Forgiveness I had mentioned about how forgiving others is perhaps the hardest thing for most of us to do.

Forgiving Others, is a habit I am trying to inculcate. Why? Because I am a very sensitive person (mudah terasa), with a vicious tongue and a temper to match. So these two faults of mine are my greatest disadvantages in my quest of being a good Muslimah.  

HURT - is  the reason that stops most from pardoning or forgiving others. But it shouldn't be an excuse for us Not to. We must Try to. Well, we want others to forgive us for our mistakes and overlook our shortcomings; so why don't we pardon others then?

I hear you say, " 'dah' or yes I 've forgiven her/him but to forget?" Same here, I always tell myself, I've forgiven him/her but after I've either retaliated with an ugly remark and regretted woefully over it.

I want to get into the habit of forgiving others. To control my anger and instantly forgive someone and overlook their faults. 

Kamal Mekki's lecture titled 'Forgiveness is a Mark of the Believer' covered the concept of forgiving others in Islam very well. An eye opener on what is the real forgiveness in Islam.

'Afw is the first level of forgiveness. Pardon others by overlooking at what they did or say to you. But this doesn't mean you have forgotten that person's mistake to you. A sign of this will be you rambling to others about it, and your face turns sour whenever you meet that person again.

A higher level of forgiveness would be 'Safh' , where you forgive and you also do not take revenge. You forget that person's mistake, or in Kamal el Mekki's words "you erase it out of your mind".  

Easier said than done, but if we psych or drum into our heads that 'I must learn to forgive and try to forget' you will be able to pardon others more easily. It takes practice, my motivational words to myself would be ' this is the sign of Imaan'. 

Do both 'Afw and Safh, meaning pardon others and 'turn away'.

and let them pardon and turn away. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

An Nur :22

The highest level of all, would be 'Ihsaan', doing something nice to the person who had wronged you. So do  'Afw, (pardon) Safh (forgive and forget) and Ihsaan (be kind) to that person instead of retaliating. 

This reminds me of story of Rasulullah (peace and blessings upon him) and an unkind old woman who would place obstacles ( thorns and even 'najis')  on his path. When she fell sick, Rasulullah (peace and blessings upon him) was the one who had visited her and looked after her, and that kindness from Rasulullah (peace and blessings upon him)  opened her heart to Islam. 

Try to ingrain in ourselves that 'to err is human and that Allah loves those who are most forgiving'. Again, start small. Learn to forgive first then give yourself some time to forget. Then when forgiving others become second nature, try to forgive and forget. Trust me, once you try to erase the wrongdoings you get to move on and enjoy your life better. And being nice to the person that had wronged you, is a sign of your level of faith and will definitely create a new person in you. 

I've tried this and it sure made me at peace with myself in times that I've managed to forgive and forget, my only task is as I mentioned is to make it a habit.

May Allah be pleased with us.

Here's the full lecture

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ask for Forgiveness

Few months ago,  I got into a  misunderstanding with a family member. I had commented on a rather cryptic status update on facebook;  in an attempt to seek further clarification. The so called family member replied that I was being 'tidak beradab, biadap'.  

  I was SO shocked. 

Now shocked, would be an understatement,  I was dumbfounded and thoroughly upset. It felt as if someone had just grabbed my hijab and shoved me from the back; and  I fell with a big thud. Choking back my tears, I replied asking where in my comment was the rude part. 

Later I received a so called  apology email. A simple sorry or I apologise would suffice.  It would have made me feel better. But the person went on to say that well,  I was overboard, being the usual me, 'outspoken' and 'laser', 'spoiling things with my remarks', adding salt to my wound.

Yes, I can be blunt at times. But I am trying my best to guard my tongue, giving more thought before I say something. And  the 'old' me would always want to have the last word. Hubs said, "Sabarlah. Just make du'a for that family member."  But  I was stubborn, going back to the old me, because I strongly felt that I did not do anything wrong.  Wanting to prove that I was right, a war of emails ensued, but not for long. After two emails, I realised that replying the email in the first place was a mistake, because it made the misunderstanding worse. We ended up hurting each other more.

I wallowed into self pity for almost a day. Anger and resentment for being hurled with insults. My conscience bugged me,  that  I had fared poorly as well.

Luckily, I came back to my senses. 

Reflect /Muhasabah

Time for self reflection, 'muhasabah'.  

Perhaps this misunderstanding  is Allah's way of teaching me a lesson.

That apology email I received  sent an underlying  message that this person had been holding a grudge over me for quite some time, and it wasn't about the recent comment I had made at all. Must be something I said some time ago. 

What I've learned from this small misunderstanding is aplenty.

Firstly, in the course of our life, we might have hurt our loved ones, friends or acquaintances without realising it. So I did what I should have done years ago, asking people for forgiveness.

I called my mum to ask for forgiveness. Said that I was sorry if I wasn't a good daughter and that call made me so homesick. Of course, mak went emotional and cried over the phone but it was a great feeling to hear her saying that she loved me very much.  
I sent  emails to my other family members to apologise if I had 'tersalah kata,' and will they please forgive me.  (Many thought I was dying for sending such emails, I guess as they say in Malay- buang tabiat)

Now, try asking people for their forgiveness (not just during Eid). You will feel as if your shoulders are lighter and it's like you just woke up to a  bright sunny day. That's how I felt. It also improves your relationship with those that you've asked for forgiveness. 

Secondly, it is  not  that easy to change others' wrong point of view,  and if you still firmly believe that person is in the wrong, just make du'a that Allah will guide them. Perhaps  we ourselves are in the wrong, so we should also make du'a that Allah will forgive our sins.

Thirdly, I've made a resolution that I will be 'more concerned with my character rather than my reputation.' However, more effort must be made especially in controlling my temper in order to improve my character!

Fourth, never judge a person based on his/her 'not so good' past behaviour, especially if you have not met that person for a long time. Because that person might have changed. 

Fifth, I must try to develop the habit of asking family, friends for forgiveness because we never know whether we will wake up tomorrow. Borrowing one  Ustaz's words " There is no guarantee that when you go to bed tonight, you will wake up tomorrow." And if people come to you to apologise, likewise, do the same. Don't question them! A friend jokingly replied,  "Well, what did you say behind my back?". I was taken aback, then recovered with" I'd just like to minta maaf' ".  

Lastly, in this particular life lesson for me, asking Allah for forgiveness was easier than asking from a person. That's because the moment you reflect, you repent. Instantly, you  remember to ask Allah for forgiveness.  There are many ways of asking Allah for forgiveness- through Istigfar, making du'a or solat taubah of 2 rakaahs. Then you firmly tell yourself you will change.  

Ask  Allah for His Forgiveness. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. 2:199

Knowing that Allah's mercy is Great makes asking Allah's forgiveness much easier than asking from another individual for forgiveness. If you have hurt a person, saying sorry is not an easy task. You will need to swallow your ego first. And what guarantee do you have that  person will forgive you?  

Ironically, I have yet to ask forgiveness from the family member, perhaps due to my ego, or just because the wound has yet to heal. I still do not know how to initiate it, please pray for me, that I will be able to do this soon.

I've just realised that one thing that I had forgotten to list down as my lessons learnt is:- 

to forgive others, perhaps the hardest thing to do for most of us!

But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.  5:13

Nina - ask for forgiveness and forgive others

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Change starts with the (wo) man in the mirror

   Change - it is  only the word itself that's constant. 

The world is changing. Our environment, our technology, our lives are changing. As the day passes us by, we get older by day. Hey, that's a change in age you can't stop. 

You can't stop change. So why not make a positive change.  Starting with  the (wo)man in the mirror. Yes, start with ourselves first in order to make a difference.  

Anyone who says that they won't change is somewhat arrogant, if you ask me. We should always, strive for change.  Let's take it a step further whenever we have the word change in our mind;-  

Tell ourselves ''I will change in order to please Allah, not others.''

It doesn't matter if you start  small, what matters most is that you have made it a point to make that change to please Allah.

I have made a promise that I will strive to change, to be a better Muslimah , InshaAllah. And writing all this down reaffirms my niat.  My 'Hijrah' wasn't overnight.  It was a slow ongoing process and still is. Gradually, you start changing, then when those around you realise it, they 'label' it as 'Hijrah'. 

Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.13 :11

Call it whatever you want, for me, my 'Hijrah'  was that big leap I made but being steadfast is my  biggest challenge of all. 

The nature of our heart is to change, and you'll find that there are hadith and duas from the Quran that we can make to help make our hearts firm.  

Make this du'a: 


Sahih International

 "Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.

So now that we have geared ourselves towards a new positive us, remember to also make du'a above to make us steadfast, because, our Imaan does go up and down. Well, especially for me. I  have to work extra hard to make myself steadfast. Because that is my weakness and Syaitan is really, really  clever; one small whisper can  lead you to a  bad deed if you do not take effort to fight an evil thought that crosses your mind. And if you just thinking of doing something good, Syaitan comes in and let you remember that something you had forgotten some time ago, or make you distracted on other things. For instance, many times I had planned to read the Quran, listen to the seerah on the podcast, etc;  somehow I am bound to be  distracted with other things, like the phone ringing or your kids suddenly misbehaving. Interesting how they were playing so well together, the moment you just opened the Quran, you find your youngest suddenly screaming.    

Also,  making the 'Hijrah', doesn't make you an angel. You are bound to make mistakes or commit sin.  Then again, we are all human, so if we do 'slip' sometimes, remember to seek forgiveness from Allah swt. 

Istigfar - "Astagfirullahalazim,"  say it many times, in the car, while you're walking, cooking, jogging and particularly when you're about to pass that juicy bit of information about someone. Istigfar before Syaitan gets the better of you. 

The Messenger of Allaah (S) said: ‘By Allaah, I seek forgiveness and repent to Allaah, more than seventy times a day.’
Hadeeth Al Bukhari

So start today! And if you're the type that gets motivated by songs, here is one  that is very inspiring.
A cover by Awakening's new talent, Raef "Man in the Mirror'.


I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change
Songwriter(s): Ballard, Glen; Garrett, Siedah

Life has no remote ... So.... Get up and Change it yourself !!!

And Remember! •► Dont change yourself to please others, but change yourself to please Allaah! ♥
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Nina - Change, Reflect and Repent